Talk to TH: Pinto Canyon Road on a Harley? ANSWER
QUESTION: Harleys on Pinto Canyon Road?
Thanks for your email about the Pinto Canyon Road –– and thanks for supporting Texas Highways magazine.
First, I need to say I'm NOT an experienced motorcyclist, so I don't hold any significant experience (or two-wheeled wisdom) on which to base my response other than my impressions of biking.
As I mentioned in the article, the condition of the unpaved road has been somewhat different every time I've driven it.
Even so, I don't think there will be a problem with you SURVIVING or enduring the trip on a motorcycle, assuming reasonable weather conditions.
Now, whether you'll ENJOY it or not, I'm wondering. You'll encounter steep inclines on narrow roads (a tight fit for two vehicles to pass) with no guardrails. There are some rough washboards, and the potential for deep sand at the stream crossings––again, weather is an issue and any recent flooding activity could deepen the sand.
I don't know how it feels to maneuver a heavy bike at low speed over rough roads, but I'm imagining it would be strenuous. Obviously, you'll need to be extremely watchful and wary––as you know, there's always some weird obstacle that pops up on roads like this one. In the article, I mentioned the strange chunk of concrete (part of an old cattle guard) that somehow shifted itself into the road, creating an odd hole in the road deep enough to catch a truck tire. That problem was fixed the last time I drove the road.
The most likely source of current road information will be the folks at the Chinati Hot Springs. Officially, the unpaved section of the road is a Presidio County road. The paved section––also a wonderful drive––is maintained by the Texas Department of Transportation Marfa office––no worries on that stretch.
I guess the bottom line is that I can't really encourage you by saying the drive will be a piece of cake, and I don't know where this drive ranks on your bucket list.
And, of course, U.S. 67 from Marfa to Presidio is a wonderful drive, too––you can check out Shafter along the way. If you do that, be sure to take the unpaved road to the cemetery.
Good luck and happy touring
Charles J. Lohrmann